Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone

'Zero Physical Evidence'

Richard Petrone & Danielle Imbo
Richard Petrone & Danielle Imbo

On the night of February 19, 2005, Danielle Imbo, 34, and Richard Petrone, 35, vanished.  They were last seen at Abilene's bar and restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia, and Richard's best friend Rick Bellezzi told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the couple "left the club happy at about 11:45."  But that was the last time they were seen.  Two adults traveling in a pickup truck — gone.  No phone calls to friends or family members, no ransom notes, no wreckage, no remains.  And now after nearly ten months of searching, the police say they have "zero physical evidence."

Despite extensive searches, Richard's 2001 four-door Dodge Dakota pickup has not been located.  Richard's and Danielle's credit cards and ATM cards have not been used since they walked out of Abilene's that night.  There has been no activity on either of their cellphones.  Surveillance cameras that routinely record transactions at ATM machines showed no signs of either of them.  Video cameras at highway toll plazas and river crossings have no record of Richard's truck passing through that night.  It's as if they vanished into thin air.

Richard Petrone's truck
Richard Petrone's truck

"Not a lipstick, not a bag, not a shoe, not a car, not an eyewitness, not a tip, not anything," Danielle's brother, John Ottobre, told Philadelphia Daily News reporter Scott Flander.  A reward of $100,000 is being offered for any information that will lead to the whereabouts of Danielle and Richard, and police in Philadelphia and New Jersey as well as the FBI continue to search for the couple.  But so far they've come up empty. 

Danielle Imbo
Danielle Imbo

Danielle is an attractive brunette with hazel eyes and an infectious smile.  Her friends agree that she's "very smart" and has a "great sense of humor."  One friend described her as a "brutally honest" person, "a tell-it-like-it-is type of girl."  Until a few years ago she sang in a rock band called the School Boys, following in the footsteps of her late father, Johnny Ottobre, who in the 1950s had been the lead singer in a well-known doo-wop group called the Four Dates.  She wears a tattoo on her lower back — the symbol for her astrological sign (Leo) inside a horseshoe of flowers. 

Richard has two tattoos.  On his right arm he has an image of clowns; on his left he has his beloved daughter's name, "Angela."  Often described as good-natured and jovial, Richard has a stocky, solid build.  He has blue eyes and brown hair and usually wears a goatee or a sculpted full beard. 

Richard's and Danielle's families are understandably distraught and perplexed.  Some family members fear the worst; others struggle to remain hopeful.  Danielle's estranged husband, Joe Imbo, had allegedly threatened Richard Petrone over the phone on several occasions.  Imbo was questioned by the police after the disappearance, but so far no arrests have been made.

According to Sergeant Tim Cooney of the Philadelphia Police, "No one is a suspect and everyone is a subject of this investigation."


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